Sunday, 19 February 2012

Reunion 2012

On Sunday February the 19th we held the annual Reunion for the Friends of Skokholm and Skomer. The day was well attended some 90 people came to Nailsworth to the home of the Green Rovers Football club.
A presentation from Sarah Kessel Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust gave us a good insight into the problems and joys of running the Trust. She acknowledged the help from the Friends and told us of her trepidation in meeting the Friends committee members in January 2010. It was a story that ended well and both Friends and Trust are now working together. She urged us all to join the Trust and for each of us to get a friend to join.
Sash Tusa Trustee spoke about the vision for the future of the Islands and the lighthouse which is now owned by the Trust. He welcomed input and ideas from the Friends to shape the future of the Islands. Both Sash and Sarah stayed for the day and were able to answer questions and hear the Friends ideas for the future of the Islands.
Chris Taylor (Skomer Warden) followed with an update of events and birds on Skomer. The birds are doing well. Chris survived a heavy duty media occupancy of the Island in this last season. He has spent the winter learning to say NO. He also later gave an account of the wildlife events on on Skokholm in Jerry’s absence. Jerry will be returning to Skokholm this year as warden.
Holly Kirk took up the mic and told us the fascinating story of her life as a researcher on Skomer Island. She is working on Shearwater tracking for her Phd. She was passionate and youthfully enthusiastic about island life and despite having to work day and night still found time to enjoy the social life. She also agreed to join the Friends Committee which we are delighted about. We should also recruit her to Steve’s slave driving work-parties. He has not managed to get the Skokholm volunteers to work day and night, although this may have given him ideas.
Our annual general meeting was disposed of quickly with Holly voted on and the remainder of the committee remaining with a unanimous vote.
Steve followed with an update on the renovation work done on Skokholm. Despite being a part of this work I was amazed at what has been achieved in such a short time. The power of motivated people is simply staggering. A few photos included as evidence.
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Last view of the cottage with timber resting Painting halted for the winter
for the winter ready for laying floors in April
Painting halted for the winter
Oliver Davis from the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales gave a fascinating talk about aerial surveys using special LiDAR techniques which offer a detailed view of the ground. Uncovering remnants of buildings, sheep dips and other unidentifiable elevations hidden to the eye on the ground but visible form high up in the air.
Both Skomer and Skokholm have been surveyed and the general conclusion is that there may well have been much earlier and intensive human occupation than was previously thought - though some sceptics identified some of the elevations as the lighthouse kitchen garden.
Finally Anna Sutcliffe gave an exciting talk about bird and seal life in Antarctica. She focused on the ‘strangely familiar’ and the extraordinary beauty of a place she has come to know well and love. Videos and sound gave an extra dimension to her talk and one could imagine being there all be in the comfortable warmth of the conference centre.
We missed Anne Izzard who was not well and Jane Carpenter who after organizing the speakers for the day went off and had her second baby girl.
It was a good day with only lunch a disappointment. A short survey following the day has brought many comments. Mostly people feel a return to the Barn in Bishops Cleeve would be a good move. The Barn is undergoing extensive renovations and we should be able to have the presentations and the meal all on one level. We will make sure that we give information about public transport and possible lifts from stations if necessary. We want all of you to be able to come and enjoy the day.
Last view in October of the Island
All the materials and the plans for work to begin again in April are in place. The cottage needs completing and the kitchen will be reorganized and updated. The warden’s and the kitchen roof will be replaced as will the garage roof that blew down in the winter.
Thank you all for your support and generosity towards the Islands. See you next year if not before on the Islands.
Remember to look up news on our new Blog

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A trip to Skokholm on the Trinity House Tug

clip_image006The opportunity of a quick visit to Skokholm arose as the Lighthouse crew were being delivered to the Island to decommission present light and to install the beacon that is to replace it. Steve, his friend Allan (interested in the engines in the lighthouse) and I set off from Milford in this rather heavy but comfortable Tug. We navigated in and out of the sluices of Milford Dock and after an hour’s journey arrived in South Haven. Landing was by tender, easy enough to get on to but getting off on to the Island was more of a challenge as the landing covered in green algae, was very slippery indeed, I crawled.
We made our way to the lighthouse and had a good look around. An imposing building but surprisingly small inside.
Later we walked back to the Wheelhouse to examine the buildings for winter storm damage. clip_image010
North pond was full of water quite a change from the last time I saw it entirely dry in October last year.
The wheelhouse was in good shape, but for the large amount of mouse droppings in the pantry.
The cottage was sound as a bell. No damp and a lovely smell of dry winter cottage. I would have been happy to stay the night without heating. One of the windows had been blown off otherwise no damage.The only problem was the loss of some 10 roofing sheets that got blown about in the wind. Our work done, we spent a relaxed hour watching the lighthouse crew work hard. Can you spot Steve eating his second lunch?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Volunteers needed in March

At the moment there are no volunteers booked in to help Jerry open up Skokholm in March this year.
Anyone interested in spending some time there in a month which can be very interesting birdy wise (or cold and windswept!) PLEASE get in touch with Chris Taylor on as soon as possible.